Album: DAMN. (2017)
Charted: 18 4
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Songfacts®:

  • Here Kendrick Lamar celebrates his black heritage that is embedded in his genetic code.

    I got, I got, I got, I got
    Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA


    King Kendrick previously touched on his regal ancestors on To Pimp a Butterfly's, "I" where he explored the N-word's royal roots in Ancient Africa.

    Well, this is my explanation straight from Ethiopia
    N-E-G-U-S definition: royalty; King royalty – wait listen
    N-E-G-U-S description: Black emperor, King, ruler, now let me finish
  • Lamar goes on to compare himself to Jesus Christ, depicting himself as a son of God and a tool for His will,

    I was born like this, since one like this
    Immaculate conception
    I transform like this, perform like this
    Was Yeshua's new weapon


    Lamar's suggestion that he's a savior for both rap and his community ties in what he sees as DAMN's "urgent" message that we need to call on God to solve our real world problems: Speaking The New York Style Magazine the Compton MC said:

    "I think now, how wayward things have gone within the past few months, my focus is ultimately going back to my community and the other communities around the world where they're doing the groundwork. To Pimp a Butterfly was addressing the problem. I'm in a space now where I'm not addressing the problem anymore. We're in a time where we exclude one major component out of this whole thing called life: God. Nobody speaks on it because it's almost in conflict with what's going on in the world when you talk about politics and government and the system."
  • During the bridge, there is a sample of a clip of Geraldo Rivera complaining on Fox News about Lamar's 2015 BET Awards performance of "Alright". The right wing pundit declares that "hip hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years."

    Lamar sampled a different portion of the same Fox News segment in the previous song "BLOOD." The Compton rapper goes on to directly address Rivera one track later on "YAH.," noting that his young niece witnessed the critical broadcast.

    Rivera responded to the shout out by "the great" Kendrick, who he considers to be the second-best rapper behind Drake. "I didn't particularly care for the way he mentioned me," the newsman said during a podcast. "I think that the mention is relatively benign... I have no beef with Kendrick Lamar."
  • The beat was supplied by Mike Will Made-It, the producer behind Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" and Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles" among other hits. It is one of three songs he produced for DAMN, the other two being the lead single "HUMBLE." and the U2-featuring "XXX."
  • DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleicacid. They are the molecules that carry the instructions used in growth, development, functioning and reproduction in organisms. Here are some fun facts from The Encyclopedia of Trivia:

    The first animal to have its DNA completely sequenced was a nematode worm in 1998.

    In 2013 The United States Supreme Court unanimously rules that naturally occurring DNA sequences cannot be patented.

    The DNA of anyone is 99.9 per cent identical to that of anyone else. It's the other 0.1 percent that makes one person different from another.

    To store all the DNA in the world, it would take 1 sextillion supercomputers.

    If your DNA was stretched out it would reach to the moon 6,000 times.

    Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.
  • The song's music video was directed by Nabil and the Little Homies (Kendrick Lamar himself and TDE's Dave Free). The clip finds Kendrick Lamar sitting in an interrogation room getting grilled by a character played by actor Don Cheadle. We see Don Cheadle's police interrogator gradually getting possessed by the track. As his mind gets taken over, Cheadle starts lip-syncing to the song, trading verses with Lamar. Fellow TDE rapper ScHoolboy Q makes a brief appearance at the end.
  • Don Cheadle spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the "intimidating" process of rapping with the Compton MC.

    "I listened to the track, and I was like, 'You're out of your mind. Like, have you heard how you rap?'" he said. "I crammed, like we often do as actors, and with some directing and editing, they made it work. ... All that back and forth we were doing was just completely improv, which was fun for me. ... It's tricky with Kendrick because the complexities of how his thoughts work. It's very poetic, and it's not linear, necessarily."
  • Mike Will Made-It recalled to NPR that when he was working on the song with Kendrick Lamar, the Compton MC went the whole way through the tune and then he just started spitting a cappella. The producer added:

    "He said, 'I just want to see if you can put some drums around this.' I said, 'Man, hell yeah.' But he was going so hard; that man was rapping so crazy. Just imagine him a cappella rapping the second half of 'DNA.' and I had to build a beat around that. I didn't want the beat to just sound like a regular boom-clap, boom-clap. I wanted that s--t to sound just as crazy. I wanted it to sound like he's battling the beat."
  • Lamar opened the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards with this song, which he segued into "HUMBLE." The performance was a memorable one, with ninjas and a flaming samurai.

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